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One of the first black firefighters with the Winston-Salem Fire Department died Wednesday

Willie “Chick” Carter was one out of eight black men who integrated the Winston-Salem fire company housed on Dunleith Avenue.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Legendary firefighter Willie “Chick” Carter, one of the first black firefighters to integrate the Winston-Salem Fire Department, died Wednesday, according to the Winston-Salem Fire Department. He was 95. 

The WSFD tweeted as they mourned the loss of their fellow retired firefighter. He was a part of the original eight black men hired in North Carolina’s first integrated firehouse E-4.

WSFD recognized Carter during a Black History Month Celebration in 2020. He courageously served with honor for 35 years, according to the WSFD.

On March 1. 1951, Winston-Salem hired and formed the first integrated fire company in the city and the state of North Carolina on Dunleith Avenue. The eight firefighters were Raphael Black, John Thomas, Lester Ervin, John Henry Ford, Robert Grier, John Meredith, George Penn, and Willie Carter. By 1967, the fire department was fully merged, as mentioned by the city of Winston-Salem Fire Department website

Credit: Winston-Salem Fire Department
First African American Firefighters in Winston-Salem featured in newspaper

On March 1. 2021, WSFD celebrated and released a video in remembrance of the eight men who shared meals, prayed, and lived together. At the time, everyone did not agree with merging the men into the fire company, but many of the eight men were WWII veterans who proved themselves more than capable of serving as rescuers.

During the celebration earlier this year, WSFD created a street sign labeled, Honorary “First Eight” Avenue and placed it near the old station to commemorate their courageousness. Citizens applauded Carter as he was in attendance and surrounded by so much love.

Credit: Winston-Salem Fire Department

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